Can someone tell me what I have?
The Department of Anthropology welcomes inquiries from the general public. Please do not bring the object(s) to the Museum as volunteers at the Information Desk are not able to accept Anthropology materials for review. If you have a question about an object in your care, please consult the instructions for Specimen Identification Requests & Donations. Your inquiry will then be passed along to the appropriate Curator for consideration.
The Department does not provide appraisals on material. Please visit the American Society of Appraisers, the Appraisers Association of America, or the International Society of Appraisers to find an appropriate appraiser.
How do I visit the Anthropology Collections?
Research visits to the Anthropology Collections require approval through the Deparment and at least two weeks notice to coordinate a time. Please note that visitation and work schedules for the Collections staff and Curators tend to fill up two months in advance, so more lead time is preferable. Visits will be arranged during regular public hours, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.
More than 50,000 objects constitute the Anthropology Collection. As recently described in the book Crossroads of Culture, the collection is mainly comprised of archaeological and ethnological artifacts from North America. The department also curates collections from Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Additional holdings include the 800-piece Ethnological Art Collection and archival photographs and documents. The department is fully committed to compliance with the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and all other national and international laws that impact anthropological objects.
Request for Access Form
Collections Use Agreement Form
Policies for Sensitive and Hazardous Collections
Guidelines for Borrowers
The Department cares for human remains and a number of sensitive items that are religious or ceremonial in nature. We make every effort to respectfully care for these entities, primarily collaborating with the communities from which they came. Human remains are stored in a secure location separate from the rest of the collections. Visits to these sensitive collections are severely restricted and require special permission to access.
Does the Department of Anthropology acquire objects for its Collections?
The Department acquires new items for the collections if the appropriate Curator determines that they fit within the specifications of the Long-Term Collection and Research Plan. This Plan can be located at the main DMNS Collections webpage. The majority of new acquisitions are through donation as acquisition funds are severely limited. If you have a question regarding a potential donation to the Department, please email the Collections Manager photos of the object along with a basic description including information on how, when, and where you acquired the object(s). This information will then be passed along to the appropriate Curator for consideration.
May I borrow material from the Anthropology Collections?
The Department will review requests for loans from the collections on a case by case basis. Please review our Guidelines for Borrowers. Please note that due to the various steps required to complete loan requests, the Department requests at least four months between intial contact and the loan start date. There is no set fee for loans, however there may be costs associated with Conservation work, formal appraisals, object packing and transport.